One Stamp Seven Ways . . . plus Stamp Surgery

Magenta Cedar Branch Stamp

Some stamps are pretty much designed to be used in one way . . . but do you have to confine yourself to its intended purpose? When you are choosing stamps, or even later when you get your new acquisition home, take the time to really explore its uses. You may be surprised at how many ways you can use it.

I purchased this Magenta stamp a few days ago. The stamp’s price sticker labels it as “Cedar Branch.” I blogged about using it to create the look of “frost” on a stamped window in my January 30th post. Obviously, the stamp was designed to represent a tree branch, but let’s look at seven different ways that we might use this deceptively simple image.

Do a Test Print With Every New Stamp

Test Stamping

When you get a new stamp, do a test print by stamping the image on a piece of scrap paper to look at the bones of the image. Because so many times we stamp images in black, this is a reasonable way to start, but you may decide that starting with another color makes more sense in some cases. For example, here did test stamping in both black and dark green because I thought it likely I might particularly stamp this image in these colors.

This is, by the way, also a good time to look for problems with a stamp, like areas that don’t print well or where you get unwanted edges. In this particular case, I was getting some edge prints. This type of problem varies by how you ink the stamp and how firmly you press the stamp onto the surface. In this case for example, repeated stampings didn’t always give me the edge prints. But I knew that this would bug me, so I paused and did some quick stamp surgery to get rid of the edges.

stamp surgery

If you decide to cut away areas on a mounted stamp, you need to be very, very careful. You don’t want to make the problem worse (or even ruin the stamp mounting) by undercutting the raised parts of the image that will stamp. To avoid this, I try not too get too close to the raised areas and use a very sharp craft knife to repeatedly cut straight down into the rubber/cushion rather than running the knife horizontally.

stamp surgery

Then once the edges of the area I want to cut away are cut, I carefully slide the tip of the craft knife under just that little bit of cushion to remove the rubber/cushion bit from the stamp. (How difficult this is, may depend on the aggressiveness of the adhesive used to mount the stamp to the wood mount.) Then I do another test print to be sure I’ve fixed what bugs me and that I now have a clean print.

1) Stamp in One Corner

This particular image is clearly meant to be used as a corner stamp. While the cedar branch in the middle of the stamp draws your attention, notice that two of the edges are hard edges, so in most cases, it won’t look right stamped in the middle of a card.

Corner Branch

So let’s stamp it in the corner of a card. But look, it could be stamped in the upper left corner . . .

Corner Branch

Or the upper right corner. Notice that this stamp is not symmetrical. One of the hard edges is longer than the other. This means that the image looks subtly different and takes up a little bit different space if you stamp it in the upper right corner rather than the upper left.

Corner Branch

Or you could stamp it the lower right corner . . .

Corner Branch

Or the lower left corner. This particular image design is flexible enough that it could be used in any of the four corners of a typically rectangular card and it could work.

Notice, by the way, that the upper left corner and the lower right corner are really the same card turned 180 degrees and the upper right and lower left are also the same card turned 180 degrees. On this second stamping, I didn’t quite hit the corner, so would need to trim the card just a little. To avoid this problem in the future, I could either use a stamp positioner or place the ink stamped rubber-side-up on the table and lower the card surface face-down onto the inked stamp. Or I could simply be sure to slightly go over the cardstock edges when I stamp in a corner so that I’m sure that the image stamps right up to and over the edges.

2) Medallion

Some corner stamps can be stamped right next to each other to form a medallion type design. Because this image isn’t symmetrical, it doesn’t really work this way . . .

Stamp corner medallion

But then again, if you left a little space between the stamped images instead of butting them right up against each other, your could create a kind of tiled medallion that is interesting and might and might work for some situations. Here again, because I’m just doing test stampings, the images are not exactly lined up. To get evenly spaced images on a real card, you would probably want to either use a stamp positioner or actually stamp the corner images on separate squares of cardstock and then layer them in place on the card. That might let you play around with making the squares on different colored paper too.

3) Stamp in Four Corners as a Frame

Branch Frame

You could even use it in all four corners of a card to create a frame. That works too. For this particular stamp, if I want the corners to be separate and not overlapping, I need to make the card a little bigger. This particular panel is 7″ x 5 1/2″.

Branch Frame

Of course, if I only stamp the tip of the image in each corner, I can go for a more subtle frame and go with a smaller (4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″) panel.

4) Stamp in Four Corners as a Background

Branch Background

But look what happens if you stamp the four corners very close together and use a lighter color ink. Now instead of a frame, you’ve used the same stamp to create a background pattern. For this image, in order to move the corners close to each other, the panel is closer to 4″ x 4″.

Branch Background

You can also experiment with overlapping the images in different colors for a different background look. This is also approximately 4″ x 4″. I can picture another layer or maybe a cut out image layered on top of this in the center, making this background more of a frame layer.

5) Stamp Image Partially as a Border

Branch Border

How about a border? At first glace, you might think that the stamp’s two hard edges would prevent the stamp from being used as a clean border. And they do, unless you only use the portion of the stamp that doesn’t include the hard edges. By just inking that portion and stamping along the edge of the card, you’ve got a clean looking border. With the border on the top, it might give you the impression of looking through the trees with a scene stamped below.

Branch Border

Or you might rotate it 180 degrees and the border, now on the bottom looks like grasses along the bottom of the card. You might stamp them in shades of brown for a late fall card.

Branch Border

You might play around with how much of the image to include and how close together to place the corner images. Again, here they are stamped along the top but this time they are stamped very close together on the short edge of the 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ panel . . .

Branch Border

But it could also be flipped around to be along the bottom short edge. Imagine a full moon stamped above the branches here.

6) Stamp in a Different Color to Represent Something Else

Frost Window

And then of course, there is my use of the stamp the other day as “frost” by stamping it in white on a blue background inside a stamped window.

7) Stamp Inside Another Image

Branch Window

You could of course, stamp the image in dark green inside the same window and let it represent the cedar branch it was designed to represent! Here again, because the image’s hard edges are hidden by the window frame, it doesn’t have to be a corner stamp.

There may well be other ways to use this stamp. The way to find out, with this or any stamp, is to ink it up and play around with it on scrap paper to see where it takes you.

Nancie, VSN

16 thoughts on “One Stamp Seven Ways . . . plus Stamp Surgery

  1. How creative. I would never of thought to use it for grass along the bottom but I like it as well as the frosted window treatment. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jan, I must admit that I love stamps of trees and branches. They are not only a picture of an individual thing; because of the branches, they are also often a pattern. It makes them very versatile. I find it hard to leave them on a store shelf! LOL Nancie

  2. Nancie, thank you for this excellent tutorial! Unfortunately, you have made me fall in love with this stamp, so I’m struggling with my no non-essential spending plan! :)

  3. Hi Nancie,

    Great tutorial. I have to look at my stamp stash more carefully. Thank you for sparking a new interest in some of my stamps that are in a “rut”. They’ll have a whole new life!

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